If you’re a pessimist about D.C. sports, you’re convinced Martin Erat will bomb, RGIII will get hurt again, Bradley Beal will never be the same, and Rafael Soriano will vomit his entire insides onto the pitching mound during some decisive playoff game this fall.
If you’re an optimist about D.C. sports, on the other hand, you might promise not to shave your beard until a Washington pro team wins a championship, starting from your wedding day and continuing until the day you die, if necessary.
Thomas McAllister is an optimist about D.C. sports.
“I mean, I’ve waited this long,” said McAllister, a 27-year-old auto insurance salesman from Spotsylvania County who hasn’t shaved in 10 months. “Other than D.C United or the Washington Kastles, what have we had, championship-wise, around here? It’s been pretty rough. But I have faith. That’s why I started it. I definitely have faith. D.C.’s due.”
That’s why McAllister launched the “No Shave Til a Championship” drive, with the Facebook page to match. He shaved on June 1 of 2012. He got married on June 2. Then he pledged not to shave his beard until either the Caps, Nats, Redskins or Wizards win a title.
His beard has a name — Lombeardi, as chosen by his nearly 1,100 Facebook followers. It has a pedigree — McAllister went to at least one game in every playoff series when the Caps advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, and has vague recollections of Washington’s last Super Bowl win. And it has a possibly enormous lifespan: It’s been more than 20 years since one of his chosen teams won a title, and McAllister swears he won’t shave for two decades if that streak doubles.
“I’m not giving it up,” he told me this week. “I would let people down if I shaved: my friends, my followers. I feel like I would let them all down. I feel like I would actually let D.C. down. I’ve grown this beard for almost a full year now; I don’t know why I’d give it up. I already told one of my supervisors at work, if it gets too long and they were having a problem with it, I can tuck it into my shirt if they need me to.”
And what have you done to support your favorite teams lately?
McAllister is a season ticket holder for just the Redskins, but he was at opening day this week and follows each team closely. He’s happy with the Wizards’ late-season progress but doesn’t see them winning a title any time soon. He think the Caps could do some damage if they sneak into this year’s playoffs. He figures the Redskins will be a championship contender in 2013 if everyone can stay healthy and Robert Griffin III returns to form. And he assumes the Nats are probably his most likely avenue toward a clean shave, what with their 98 wins in 2012 and “World Series or Bust” motto this time around.
His wife isn’t a huge beard fan; she’s jokingly threatened to spike his drink and chop off the hair while he’s incapacitated. His friends and new followers are the opposite: They pose for photos with him at Redskins tailgates and ask for beard updates; “almost like celebrity status,” he said. His family members aren’t particularly surprised; McAllister is the biggest D.C. sports fan they know.
“He’s a fine young man, and you’ll never find a more knowledgeable individual about Washington sports,” said his step-dad, Dwayne Tyree.
But what if this fine young man never shaves again, and disappears behind a thicket of never-ending facial hair?
“That’s crazy talk,” Tyree said. “We don’t want to talk about that. With RGIII coming back, with the Nats looking good, that boy’ll be as clean shaven as me no later than next February.”
Generations have come and gone without seeing such optimism rewarded, but no matter. McAllister’s wife is still holding out hope that he’ll shave when their first child is born in August; he insists he won’t. He trimmed his mustache early on, but is now also letting that grow, despite hairs getting into his mouth. He described his current look as “mountain man,” and acknowledged it’s “always a possibility” that he will never shave again. But he has faith.
“I don’t know why I came up with the idea, but it just dawned on me to start doing it, so I did,” he said. “It’s time for D.C. to win, and I’m thinking that time is now. Or hoping.”
Yeah. Or hoping.